Naples:life,death &
                Miracle contact: Jeff Matthews

on-going entries since Nov. 2002           

The Metropolitana

The Naples Metro (Italian: Metropolitana di Napoli) is the rapid transit system serving the city of Naples. The system comprises three underground rapid transit lines (Line 1, Line 2, Line 6 and an interchange with the Rainbow Line (alias the Naples-Aversa line, alias "line 11" is what has remained of the old Alifana railway that connects Naples with the southern
In all, the Naples Metro is the third largest underground network in Italy, behind Milan and Rome. It is the oldest subway in Italy since Line 2, the first line built, was opened to the public in 1925.                       

The following items appeared on separate pages of the Around Naples Encyclopedia on the dates indicated. They have been consolidated here onto a single page to provide a chronological format that is somewhat easier to follow. There are occasional "Also see"-links to longer entries not on this page. Maps of the metro are at numbers 17, 19 and 26.    latest update is #41  

1.   Nov. 2002

Metro signIt's fun to watch them work on the new metropolitana subway station at Piazza della Borsa in downtown Naples. Actually, you watch a lot of men in hard-hats stand around leaning on their shovels waiting for a lonely archaeologist to finish sorting these bits into one box and those pieces into another box. The station is at sea-level and right on top of part of the ancient Roman southern wall of the city. That wall apparently incorporates even older segments of the original Greek wall of Neapolis; thus, it is a treasure trove for archaeologists but a stumbling block for those whose main concern is a huge urban population without adequate rapid transit. Some of the unearthed segments of the wall, however, have now been reinforced and cemented in place; thus, maybe the rumor is true: they are planning to make it all a sort of combination museum/train station.

That is happening at a number of the new subway stations. The one adjacent to the archaeological museum has—encased in plexiglass over the entrance!—the original, splendid bronze horse's head presented by Lorenzo the Magnificent (1449-92) to Diomede Carafa, the representative of the Aragonese court in Naples in the late 15th century. It had been on display in the museum, itself; now it's in a subway station. This approach to "art for the masses" has left some people delighted, and others less so.

2.    Dec. 2002

The space between Piazza Italia and
Largo Lala in Fuorigrotta, site of major
construction for the new train line.

metro construction siteYet another train line, and if this one ever gets up and running, it will be a boon for the city. Back in 1990, when Naples hosted some of the games for the World Cup in soccer, they were to build a "rapid tram" line from town out to the San Paolo stadium. Such a line would have been an enormous asset—even after the games—to the city's struggling transit system. 

Well, stations went in and the underground tunnel was built, and they even ran a test car or two down the tracks at the time, as I recall. Yet, the line never opened; it was unfinished or too poorly built to operate, and for the next decade, it just lay there gathering cobwebs below the surface of the section of town known as "Fuorigrotta". It was, in the words of the President of the Campania Region (of which Naples is the capital) and mayor of the city of Naples during the 1990s, Antonio Bassolino, who spoke about it the other day on television, a remnant of the great "tangentopoli" scandals of the early part of that decade. (That's an interesting word, translating approximately to "bribe city".) In other words, everybody was on the take, and the money to do the job right just disappeared. 

That appears to be changing. They have been working on the stations, track, and tunnel for a number of months now and current plans call for at least part of this renovated rapid light-rail transit line to be incorporated into the city's transit system within two years. Finishing the entire line will take about five years. There will be seven or eight stations along the route, one that will connect the extreme western zone of Naples in the area of the stadium and new university campus to the port of Naples at Piazza Municipio. That is something that even the new subway line does not do. 

3.    Dec. 2002

film poster: Mole PeopleNaples certainly doesn’t lack ambitious engineering plans. The decades-long (and still going on) new metropolitana—subway—is the classic case. Little by little, that is winding its way towards completion, and the sections that are already in service have made getting around the city much easier. 

Getting into and out of the city is another problem. There are two secondary narrow–gauge railway lines that serve the city. One is called the Circumvesuviana; it starts near the central train station and has an extensive network of stations and track to the west through the communities on the slopes of Vesuvius—the most densely populated area in Europe—and on out to the Sorrentine peninsula. The other one is called the Circumflegrea—also known as the Cumana; it, too, starts in the center of town and, as the name suggests, goes west to serve the outlying areas in the Campi Flegrei and beyond, all the way to end of the Gulf of Naples, itself, near Cuma.

The latest big engineering plan involves the Cumana. As it stands now, in order to get to the first station, Soccavo, outside the city to the west, the Cumana goes through a long (2 miles) and very deep tunnel that bores beneath the entire hill of Naples that the “Vomero” section of the city rests on. Many decades ago, the Vomero was remote enough to be a vacation spot for the well–heeled; to rest up a bit in the “countryside,” you went up to Vomero. Now, of course, that part of town is as busy and congested as anywhere else in the metropolitan area; indeed, the new subway line was started in order to connect Vomero with the main downtown area. 

The plan in question calls for putting in another station on the Cumana line between the downtown end–of–the-line and what is now the first stop, Soccavo. That station will lie directly below the massive Vomero hill. Then they will sink a passenger elevator from the center of Vomero 100 meters down through the hill to the new station. It will be—claims the report in the paper—the deepest subway station in the world. The plan calls for connecting—by conveyor walkways for passengers—the new station with the nearby Cilea station of the new metropolitana. The theory, then, is that with a single change at that juncture, you will be able to start your trip anywhere out to the west of the city and wind up on the new subway line with its 20–some stations. 

All this ambition sounds like a script for an invasion of the Mole People, and I am reminded of the Spanish move in the 17th–century to prohibit anymore digging, quarrying, and burrowing beneath the city out of fear of cave–ins, which were, even then, a problem. Engineers, of course, tell us that modern methods and materials of construction will actually make the subsoil safer. But, then, engineers are used to whistling in the dark!

4.    Sept. 2003

There is a famous postcard of the Bay of Naples seen from the Posillipo hill above Mergellina. It’s the classic view: the waters in front of the Villa Comunale and the seaside road, via Caracciolo, the Castel dell’Ovo, and the double peaks of Mt. Vesuvius and its companion, Mt. Somma, in the background with the beginnings of the Sorrentine peninsula spreading to the south. The photo is usually taken such that there is a famous, solitary Mediterranean pine tree in the foreground. 

We used to joke that the reason they used that same tree all the time was that it was the only one left in Naples. That is, of course, an exaggeration, since, as I have pointed out elsewhere, there are a number of large parks in Naples: the Villa Comunale, the Floridiana, the grounds of the Capodimonte museum, and the vineyards of San Martino. Those parks don’t change the fact, however, that your average neighborhood trees, the ones that line the street in front of your house, little by little, over the years, can’t help but lose the battle with encroaching, egregious overbuilding. We need a garage—those trees go. An extra parking space or two?—chop, chop. (Forget the downright forests sacrificed to illegally built, entire blocks of flats.)

Thus, I am unhappy and suspicious when I read that 60 (!) trees have been chopped down in Fuori Grotta to accommodate construction sites for the new underground train line coming in from the area of the new university and San Paolo football stadium. “New underground train line” is, of course, ridiculous. That is the train that was supposed to be up and running in 1990 for the World Cup soccer matches. Now that incompetence and bribery have been relegated to the rubbish heap of history, the train line (officially to be known as Line #6) will be finished and joined to the main lines of the metropolitana in Naples. This has meant performing quintuple by-pass surgery on the one main road, viale Augusto, that leads through that section of town, creating a labyrinth of one-way detours to get from one end of the road to the other, one mile away. Of the 30 palm trees that were there a few days ago, 8 are still there; the other 22 have been moved, but shall be returned. Sixty pines, however got the axe. The city promises that they will replaced by 94 new ones when the construction is finished. City promises—well, they are what they are.

5.     See NBLKFOPSJON for some fiction. Or is it?                

6.    July 2005           Metro Line 6

The current state of the new Mostra
station of Line 6.

(This Metro line should be called 666 and not simply 6, since they've had one Hell of a  time building it.) In any event, two things did NOT happen in Naples in 1990. One: the World Cup soccer matches were played in Italy that year, but Italy did NOT win their semi-final match against Argentina in the Naples stadium of San Paolo. There were mixed feelings among Neapolitans about that; Naples star and beloved poster boy, Diego Maradona, was unfortunately playing on his national team, Argentina, for the World Cup matches. Neapolitans loved him, but he helped beat Italy.

In spite of renovating the San Paolo stadium to conform to international standards, the city of Naples never quite finished the "other project"—the train line known as the Rapid Tram Line, supposed to have been finished in time for those matches played in Naples. It was abandoned,  producing one of the juiciest corruption scandals in years in Naples. The general consensus— expressed pithily by the Man on the Street—was, "The bastards ate the money."

Using much of the tunnel and station space completed 15 years ago, the Line 6 will go from the Mostra d'Oltremare (Overseas Fair Grounds) in the western part of Naples called Fuorigrotta to Piazza Municipio in the downtown area, adjacent to the port of Naples. The station at the Fair Grounds will also connect to a one-stop shuttle train to the new campus of the University of Naples at Monte Sant'Angelo as well as to the nearby station of Fuorigrotta; that station is a major stop on the state railway line leading to Rome and also a stop on the older Naples Metro that runs all the way to the main train station downtown. The station at the port of Naples will connect to the new Metro lines 1 and 2, which will then be up and running all the way through town and (keep your fingers crossed) maybe even up to the airport at Capodichino. In short, you will then be able to get anywhere from anywhere—by underground train.

After the initial station at the Mostra, Line 6 will stop twice beneath the main thoroughfare, viale Augusto, on its way east into the city. It then tunnels beneath the Posillipo hill and stops at the other side at the Mergellina station (I know, I know—"You leave the Mergellina station 'bout a quarter- to-four." I've heard'em all.) It stops again further east at the beginning of the Villa Comunale, the long public park along the seaside, once more in the middle of the park, then swings in and makes two more stops on the way to the end of the line at Piazza Municipio. Predictions call for the stations up to and including the first stop at the Villa Comunale to be open "in 2006". (Between patted backs and crossed fingers, I am getting sore just thinking about it.)

(back down to number 34 on this page, if that is where you started.)

7.    mid-June 2007

I don’t know how many optimistic articles I have read over the years about the new Naples metro system, the underground train lines, that the mayor of Naples has called “…the largest ongoing urban project in the nation…”. Well, it certainly is big, and it certainly is ongoing—with the latest date for opening major sections now set at about 2010, give or take (mostly give) a couple of years. (Fudge factories in Naples make fudge factors, not fudge.) The work to be done is considerable:

Piazza Municipio at Present        

(a) Bring in the line number 1 that currently ends at Piazza Dante into the stations at Piazza Toledo (now staggering towards completion) and Piazza Municipio (overcoming, here, archaeological problems—please hope they don’t find another Roman ship—as well as geological ones—they’re mucking around down in the aquifer); then, run east to the university to via Duomo and, finally, the main train station and Piazza Garibaldi, now being planned/built by Dominque Perrault, the French architect whose works include the new Mariinsky opera house in St, Petersburg, Russia.

(b) Finish the number 6 line [see above] that runs from Fuorigrotta (including a stop at the new university campus at Monte Sant’Angelo) to Mergellina (that section will open shortly) and on into Piazza Municipio and the passenger port, the true “main” station of the metro line. (The last section, from Mergellina to the port, involves difficult engineering and construction—not that the rest of the system is a piece of cake.)

(c) The last work to be done will be leading the line out from the main train station at Piazza Garibaldi up to the airport and beyond, where it will join the first station (now in operation), thus completing the circle around the city of Naples. (I have not read any realistic projection of a completion date for this last stage, although plans for the airport station are approved.) I notice that the plans for both Piazza Municipio and Piazza Garibaldi do not show many streets for cars. The idea of turning the city into a pedestrian mall is pie-in-the-sky.

        Piazza Garibaldi (projected)

          Piazza Municipio (projected)

8.        Oct 2007

Line 6--It's Alive!—or, Rush Hour on the Ghost Train!

When they were still finishing up this part of Line 6 of the metropolitana subway line, I complained about the slow progress. Well, four stations are now up (down) and running, those from Mergellina to Fuorigrotta (see map directly below). It has already been called the most "useless piece of track in the world" because, essentially, it doubles a line of the old subway train that has existed since the 1920s. This line will serve almost no purpose until it is completed into the area of the city hall and port in one direction (that is years away!) and, in the other, up to the Monte Sant'Angelo campus of the university. But it's still a nice little train. There are almost no passengers, so if you have nowhere to go and like to ride comfortably back and forth, this is for you.

9.    May 2008

For many years, the area directly in front of the Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli and the Politeama theater was a dirty parking lot. City fathers then had the fine idea to turn it into a park with trees and benches—a little oasis in the middle of the city. It was done and they did a good job, and everyone liked it. Now, they've cut down the trees (photo, right) to put in the upper entrance to the new two-tier "Martiri" station of the number 6 metro train line. As that line has snaked its way east over the past few years, a lot of trees have been removed, but they were replaced once construction was done.  That will happen here, too, I imagine. I give it about three years. 

update Jan 2012
: I was optimistic! They won't make it by May (unless you mean 2013). Yesterday I stood behind the fence at about where that second tree-stump in the middle is (photo, above right). I shot down over the fence and the entire square in front of the Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli is still an open pit (photo, right). The church and square are located well above the main street level, which is where the main entrance to the station will eventually be. The pit is now down to about that point. Scale can be measured roughly by looking at the earth-moving equipment parked at  the upper right at the bottom of the pit. It has a cab where a single human operator sits. The entire Martiri station, of course, will have to connect to the trains running underground, which means, obviously, a third level way down where the tracks are. In theory, there is an earth boring piece of equipment (see #14, below) that left the Mergellina station 'bout a quarter to four in September of 2009 burrowing its way towards Arco Mirelli, which still looks pretty much as it does in #16 (below, from Nov. 2010), although most of the important work is done where you can't see it. I think the tunnel-gnawing monster must be somewhere between Arco Mirelli and S. Pasquale by now. If it has taken a wrong turn, it's about half-way to Capri.

10.   July 2008

The number 1 line of the new Naples Metro underground train line is currently open to Piazza Dante. There are two stations left to finish in order to connect to the Piazza Municipio station at the port; one is the Toledo station (which looks almost finished to me) and the last one is the Municipio station, itself (which is still a mess). In any event, the remaining tunnels are now finished and, yesterday, were declared open and sound. The Municipio station is a mammoth project since it will have to receive traffic from the number 6 line currently burrowing its way along the Riviera di Chiaia on its way to the port. A paper reports today that the ETCC (Estimated Time of Complete Choo-Choo-hood) on all this is 2011.

11. Oct 2008

It just a matter of days, but so is the age of the earth, itself. Recent construction on the number 6 metro line, inching its way along the north side of the Villa Comunale, has produced an interesting explanatory billboard put up by the city, presumably to placate the drivers caught in the traffic squeeze caused by the construction of the section from the Arco Mirelli station to the San Pasquale station (map, item 9, above). There is a helpful map that also tells you when they started the work (October, 2007) and also how long the job is expected to take, expressed in days (!). "Gee, only 1977 days. That's not so bad, dear. Wait a minute--clickety-click, carry the 2--that's 5 years!"

12.       Jan 2009

There is another delay in the construction of the new metropolitana underground train line. Three crucial stations that remain to be opened are the ones at Piazza Municpio, Piazza della Borsa and via Roma; they will provide a straight shot from almost anywhere in western Naples to the train station at Piazza Garibaldi. Piazza Municipio is what it is—a gigantic undertaking, but it is proceeding. I give it three years. The other two, however, have just been "sealed" by the city over concerns for public health. Waste water from the construction sites has found its way—this, according to the city—into the aqueduct that supplies the immediate area. Site engineers deny this and have promised a quick resolution.

       [See New Trains and Old Olympics.]

14.     Aug 2009

A VERY (!) large tunnel boring machine (nicknamed la talpa—mole) is spending three nights in late August (from 11 pm to 6 am) being transported on surface streets from the port of Naples to Mergellina. It will then dig into the subsoil to complete the tunnel for the Number 6 metro line that will link Mergellina with Piazza Municipio, a distance of about two miles. Streets are closed to normal traffic as the device (broken down into three pieces) moves along the seaside, through a tunnel to Fuorigrotta where it will then descend onto the tracks of the already in-service portion of the tunnel and proceed along the track to Mergellina, the recently finished and current last stop on the #6 line. Then it will start eating 10 meters a day for as long as it takes to put a tunnel beneath the remaining five stations (already under construction). It’ll take a while. 

15.    Oct 2009

The regional Campania government has just allotted 228 million euros to finish large sections of the new metropolitana, including the airport station at Capodichino airport (aka Naples International Airport). The station is supposed to be in service sometime in 2013, but that date is optimistic. In any event it will be—according to published literature on the subject—the only metro station in Italy on the premises (well, beneath the premises) of a major airport. (It is also the largest ongoing construction project in Italy, with the exception of the nation-wide high-speed train system currently being built.) The airport station will be one link in the chain of stations that lead away from the main train station, up and out along the long Secondigliano corridor (other stations on that stretch are now under construction) to the terminus at Piscinola in Scampia (already in service as the terminus of the already functioning Vomero section of the line that leads into the city); that will complete the giant metro circle around the entire city, linking all points to the port, the train station, and the airport.

16.     Nov 2010

The adjacent photo shows the current state of construction of the station of the number 6 metro line, located at the west end of the villa Comunale. The station will be called "Arco Mirelli" (map in item 9, above). The line has made progress in the last few years and is open, coming from the west in Fuori Grotta, to the Mergellina train station. The construction of the last few stations on the way into the center of the city at the port is painfully difficult and slow. The buildings on the left in the photo are at street level along the Riviera di Chiaia. The trees on the right are in the park across the street, the above-mentioned villa Comunale. That park, itself, is on the seaside and is at sea-level. It was built on reclaimed sand and swamp in the 1700s and reenforced during the urban renewal of Naples, the Risanamento, in 1900. The station is, obviously, below sea level. The train tunnel, itself, currently being drilled out beneath the street and park with a mammoth Chunnel-munching talpa (mole) [photo in item 14, above], is even deeper than the station. In other words, really below sea level!

17.     Nov 2010

  • (Nov 25) I'm wondering if this is true. The paper reports that the next metro station to open will be the one at Toledo (below "Dante" in the map, right). (Update: see item 23, below.) The metro station at Piazza Garibaldi (also where the main train station is in Naples) is almost ready as well. The problem is that the above-ground entrance facilities at the stations in between are not ready; thus, since the tracks and tunnel are ready, the plan is to run a shuttle between Toledo and the main station and simply not yet stop at the intermediate stations.

That idea is not far-fetched and, indeed, has been done before during the construction of the metro; trains coming down from the Vomero on the way to the museum passed through the incomplete Materdei station for many weeks before that station was finally ready to handle passengers.

18.          Feb. 2011

Piazza borsaThe station shown as "Università" on the above map (the first yellow station to the east (right) after "Municipio") is now complete at least as far as above-ground construction is concerned. The square, itself, is called Piazza della Borsa (Stock Exchange). It was torn up for years: first, the digging, then the huge open-pit, then the gigantic concrete containers waiting to unload—all of this surrounded by screens and fences to keep sidewalk superintendents like Yours Truly at bay. At least that is all gone now. The results are seen in this photo (right).

The statue in the center of the square is of Vittorio Emanuele II and is the one that was erected at Piazza Municipio in 1900 and, indeed, was there until removed when similar construction started on that Metro station some years ago (see item 7, above). I don't know if Victor has found a new permanent home at this University station. He replaces the statue that was there originally, the Neptune Fountain, certainly one of the most travel-weary bits of stone in the world. I can't imagine that when it is all over, they'll transfer Victor back to Piazza Municipio and Neptune back here. Well, I can imagine it, but I hope they don't. That means we'll need some new sculpture for Piazza Municipio. Where's my chisel?!

The University station, of course, is not open yet and will not be for some time, since underground work is going on both sides of it (at the Municipio station and the Duomo station, the last one that lies between this one and the main train station at Piazza Garibaldi) i.e. tunnels are still being dug and track laid. But it's a start—which is what I said many years ago.

19.   Mar. 27, 2011
Dotted lines are under construction.
Item #17, above, has a complete map.

The above two items need some clarification. The new University station mentioned in the item directly above is indeed open! While I wasn't looking and without actually telling anyone they were going to do it (that is, not indicating it on any of the published maps of the new metro system), the city parenting persons decided to build another short stretch of underground track! It opened the other day, and I have just returned from my first ride. "It" is the "University Shuttle Train" with trains zipping back and forth between the station at Piazza Dante and the University Station (as shown by the solid red line between those two points in the image, right—the University station is at Piazza della Borsa, shown in the photo in item 18, above). Students coming into Piazza Dante can now just get on the shuttle to the University instead of hiking across town. The shuttle by-passes the unfinished stations at Toledo (scheduled to open at the end of 2011) and Municipio—the main port of Naples (scheduled to open when hell freezes over).

20. An entry from Jan. 2012 is entered as an update to number 9 (see #9 above).

21.         Jan 31, 2012: 

The square named Piazza Carità has returned to its wide-open and pleasant state about halfway up via Toledo (via Roma) on the way to Piazza Dante. For three years it was a torn-up mess—a loose collection of cranes and earth-moving equipment, concrete slabs, fences to keep sidewalk supers from standing too close and traffic that could barely move past the site. Everyone knew that it was "something for the metro" but not any kind of a station (since they didn't put in passenger stairways from the square). The square is, in fact between two stations—Dante (open) and Toledo (not yet open) (see map at #19, above), and the construction was for the purpose of installing a very large ventilation shaft. That is now complete. The square has its benches and palm trees back, and once again displays its 1930s architecture and post-WWII monument to Salvo d'Acquisto. The photo (above) is from this week.

22. April 15, 2012.

I got fooled again. I thought they were going to open the new Toledo station, but I was wrong. See this misc. item. Also see the Little Choo-choo item.)

23. Toledo Station. Sept. 19, 2012.

Both of these photos are from yesterday, Sept. 18, 2012. The one on the right is of the street, via Armando Diaz, as it starts down from the crossing of via Toledo. The white building on the left is the Banca Nazionale del Lavoro. Three blocks down on the left is the main post-office. The entire street was a showcase of the architecture of Fascist Rationalism in the 1930s. It has been been at least ten years since a photo like this has been possible; the first two blocks of the street were the construction site for the new Toledo metro station, which opened yesterday (after tricking people into thinking it would open in April! See item 22, directly above.) For ten years you couldn't walk across the street, and pedestrians walking down this street towards the post-office were funneled into and along a narrow walkway on the right, between itinerant vendors and corrugated construction fencing (somewhat like cattle on their way to be slaughtered, except not as tidy).

That has all changed; the street is now a pedestrian zone. It is clean and spacious and there are benches for people to sit and see if they can feel the rumble of the trains passing through the new station below. (They can't. I tried.) The station is like others in Naples; that is, they didn't skimp on the art work and aesthetics. The whole thing is in blue glitter. It's all very space-ship-y and intergalactic. You feel as if you could float down to the trains. (You can't. I tried.) It is also very deep. You go down two long escalators (photo, right) to get to the trains. There is still some street work going on above ground, and below ground there is still A LOT of work being done. As it stands now, the traffic from upstream still ends at Piazza Dante; then you have to get off and find the University shuttle train (not hard to do for most university students). (See map, below.) It shuttles you to  the new via Toledo station, then to the university, and then back, so you can get off at via Toledo. It will be some months before the main line from upstream will connect directly from Piazza Dante to via Toledo (and, then, we hope, to Piazza Municipio and the port of Naples. But around here we take what we can get).

Additionally, in keeping with the Neapolitan ideal (first expounded by Giambattista Vico in 1735) that "All train stations should be museums, too, dammit!" they tell me that some of the subterranean treasures they found here when they first dug up the place will be put on display. The digs uncovered a significant amount of Spanish construction from the 1500s and 1600s below the modern street level, all of which was part of the Spanish expansion of the city in those years. Also, the station borders on the so-called "Spanish Quarters", a rough area. I think they have put in some underground passageways from within that area to the new station. I don't know if I want to go in there to find out.

24.             March, 2013

A building has partially collapsed at the site of current construction of the Arco Mirelli station of the #6 line. The cause almost certainly has to do with such construction. This means another interminable delay. See this link for details.

25.      Oct. 2013            “The most impressive underground railway station in Europe.”

The Montecalvario entrance to the Metro         
The bad news is that the construction of the main “home stretch” portion of the Naples subway, the section between the port and the main train station, is woefully behind schedule. The good news is that two stations that were open have been upgraded.

The 2013 LEAF (Leading European Architects Forum) Award for Public Building of the Year—Transport & Infrastructure goes to (will you open the envelope please!) the Toledo Station of the Naples Metro, called by the Daily Telegraph “the most impressive underground railway station in Europe.” The award is for the completed station; that is, the main entrance was opened last year (see #23, above), but the second entrance, called Montecalvario (in the heart of the Spanish Quarter) opened just a few weeks ago, (image, right). It really is a splendid upgrade to an often seedy and intimidating section of Naples. The station is at Piazza Montecalvario in front of the church of that name. The interior of the new station is much like the photo of the main entrance (#23, above)-- blue sparkle and glitter with long escalators and moving walkways leading towards the light. There is something very celestial about it all. This is the one underground station in Europe that may have you murmuring Edward Arlington Robinson's great lines from Credo.

I know the far-sent message of the years,
I feel the coming glory of the Light.

If that happens, I respect you, but maybe you should turn around and go find a bus. The architect is Oscar Tusquets Blanca (born in Barcelona in 1941). There is no doubt that it is beautiful and a marvelous feat of engineering. There are, however, some negative comments based on the fact that this second entrance is about a two-minute walk from the main entrance; by the time you get below ground at the second entrance via the beautiful (and very long!) escalator, you could have walked to the main entrance. The point was clearly to upgrade a shady part of town with a world-class "art-metro station." Well, it is that, but  it did cost a lot of money, which, say some, might have been better spent on other sections of this same train line.

[related update from Sept 2015 here]

The other upgraded station is the Piscinola station in Scampia, the “badlands” of Naples. It is currently the last station on the line (see map, above at #23, although eventually there will be no last station—just one gigantic ring of stations around the city). The station itself has been in service for a few years, but has never been officially inaugurated. That came to pass a few weeks ago when the station officially opened with the presentation of a permanent art exhibit entitled Felimetrò, a display of murals by Felice Pignataro (1940-2004), born in Rome, educated in Bari and a resident of Naples from 1958 until his death. He was very much known as a "local artist." They also called him "il pazzo del rione" (the crazy man of the quarter), meant as a total term of endearment. He was the founder of cultural organizations and alternative schools, all in the service of the local community, one of the most disadvantaged in Europe. He painted over 200 murals (many of which are now on display (including the one in the image, right) at the newly opened station in Scampia. And in typical fashion, he started the Scampia Carnival 20 years ago, one that still continues in his name. The new station, as well, is dedicated to his memory.

26.         Dec.1,  2013                 The Garibaldi Metro Station

I have shown up for ribbon-cutting ceremonies for new train stations in Naples before (see The Little Choo-choo), thinking I was going to get to ride the new train. It doesn’t work like that; all they do is “inaugurate” the station by passing it off from the station builders to the society that runs the Metro system in Naples. That leaves a lot of cosmetic work to be done. And so it will be tomorrow, Dec. 2, when they “open” the station beneath Piazza Garibaldi of the Number 1 Metro line. The mayor will be there, cut the ribbon and then be chauffeured back to the office. ("Who, ME? Take public transportation?") The new station connects to the Italian state railway system and is the most important station in the unfinished Metro train ring around Naples. Construction started 36 years ago; so far it has cost one billion euros. It is the largest urban construction project in Italy, smaller only than the nationwide motorway and Rapid Rail projects. It has had to contend with (indeed, still has to contend with) very difficult engineering such as getting trains from an altitude of 300 meters down to sea-level, precarious subsoil and, yes, even an earthquake. For this one Garibaldi station, alone, they restructured 156,000 sq. meters (almost 40 acres) of the square on the surface. Nevertheless, if you were born in 1976 you may have teenaged children who now use some of these 19 stations to get around town.

Papers say that the station will actually be in service by the end of December. Even then, the station will not be complete, though useful. It will take some time for all 16 escalators and all the elevators to go into service, and especially for the gigantic main concourse of shops and overhead steel spiderweb to be finished (artist's rendition, image, left. The design is by Dominique Perrault, architect of the French National Library and the European Court of Justice, among many other projects.) The above map is only of the number 1 line; from these stations you can connect to the older number 2 line, the new number 6 line (at the moment having severe problems, see #16, above) and to various cable cars. The map, however, leads you to believe that you will ride from one end to the other (Piscinola-Garibaldi) at one fell swoop. Not so. The station at via Duomo (one stop in from Garibaldi is still closed; the track, however, can now be used, so trains will simply go through the station without stopping until the surface work at the Via Duomo station is complete. The real problem is the station named Municipio (at the bottom of the image). It is at the port of Naples; it is gigantic and still very much under construction. Until that is complete (5 years, say some), the trains will detour from the Università station over to the Toledo station, and that requires you to change trains. It is piecemeal, but around here we take what we can get. Two swoops will have to do for a while.

The next and last step is to finish the ring —close that gap between Garibaldi and Piscinola.That means building a station beneath the Capodichino airport (about midway between) and a few secondary stations beyond that. I don’t think I am going to make another 36 years. A shame. I really wanted to do the whole thing, just once. So some day—I don't know where I'll be then, but I'll know about it, and I'll be happy—tell your boys (probably your boys' boys) to go out there with all they got and ride just one for the Jeffer.

27.  Jan. 2, 2014 

After many years of construction, the metro subway station at Piazza Garibaldi is indeed in service. The main entrance is by way of a large central shaft in the square. The shaft is glass-covered and provides natural light down to the level of the train platforms themselves, 40 meters below. You can now travel end to end on this Number 1 Metro line in 30 minutes, that is, from Piscinola in to the main station without changing trains (see map, above). Additional work remains to be done at various points (see item directly above), but the opening of the main station at Piazza Garibaldi is a major step. It is a hub of various other train lines--the old Metro, the Circumvesuviana railway, and the new High Speed national train line.

28. early June 2014

Yesterday Il Mattino, the large Naples daily newspaper ran this computer-generated vision of what the large square, Piazza Municipio, between the city hall and the main passenger port of Naples will look like "by Christmas." Assuming they mean Christmas of 2014, I am skeptical--but hopeful. As of yesterday (June 3), the square was still pretty much dug up. Optimists say, yes, but that is all surface work; that is, entrance stairways, corridors, wall art, etc. etc. After all, this station is right on top of the old Roman port and later medieval walls of the city. A large part of the remaining work will be dedicated to displaying much of that in what is  billed as a "metro station/museum." The underground engineering and construction is in place; the tracks are in, the elevator shafts, the long escalators, etc. Thus you will able to come in from anywhere in the northern part of Naples, all the way back to the current northernmost station at Piscinola (see graphic in item 26, two up from this one) and hit all the stations on the way to the main port (Municipio) or continue on to the main train station (Garibaldi). Imagine a clock-face; you start at12 o'clock, wiggle across the clock-face down to 6 (Municipio) and over to about 4 (Garibaldi). I hope they make it. The bad news is that if you have to come in from the west (say, 9 o'clock) you are still stuck for another few years due to the agonizing work along the #6 line from Fuorigrotta.                          (image: il Mattino)

29. early August 2014

I don't think this is the "home stretch" of the Naples-girding metropolitana train line that the newspapers claim it is, but at 35 years and counting, every little bit helps! The other day they cut the ribbon (not to open the station, but to start building it!) on the new station beneath the vast Centro Direzionale (CD) (Civic Center). (Actually there will be two stations; that's how large an area the CD covers.) The station (if you look at the various maps, above) is the one beyond the main station at Piazza Garibaldi. Actually, there is already train activity beneath the CD, but it is a narrow-gauge line, the Circumvesuviana, quite intricate and extensive. but quite separate. This new metro stop will be the last one before the big one at the airport of Capodichino. (If you look at the plans for that airport at this link, you will see that they originally called for the metro station to be directly beneath the airport terminal. The construction would have been a logistical nightmare, probably involving even the closure of the airport and diverting traffic to a secondary airport! So they have wisely decided to locate the metro station on the nearby main road that leads to and through Secondigliano (and eventually to the station at Piscinola, already in service. There will three or four stations along that corridor and that will do ita metro around Naples. ) There is, however, a problem with a station even 200 yards from an air terminal; you can't easily walk it carrying kids and luggage, so they'll have a shuttle bus service or a small monorail shuttle. Or a climate-controlled elevated fully-enclosed deluxe people-moving walkway. Or a blimp. That is the plan. In any event, from my non-engineer's perspective, the new station at the CD, while not a "piece of cake" should present fewer problems than others: the entire above-ground super-structure is already in place, the CD, itself. Below-ground structure is essentially in place or can be easily placed due to all the earlier work that went on for the CD and the Circumvesuviana. I think all they have to do now is dig the tunnel. Oh.

p.s. The date? 2018, kit and caboodle; that is, CD station, airport station, the few remaining smaller stops (above ground, I think) to Piscinola, and the huge station at the port of Naples. That is very optimistic, but whenever it comes to pass, the ring will be whole. (I feel as if I should be thanking Tolkien for that phrase!)
(photo: NewfotoSud, A. di Laurenzo)

30.  --- also see this Miscellany link from November 2014.

31.  --- and this one from April 2015. They have OPENED the underground passages at Piazza Municipio!

32. --- and this, from May 2015.

33. --- and this, from June 2015. New station at Piazza Municipio opens.

34. June 2015
 Metro Line 7

    Is this really a train station?   
Once upon a time (10 years ago, to be precisesee #6 on this page, above) I said that "the station at the Fair Grounds will also connect to a one-stop shuttle train to the new campus of the University of Naples at Monte Sant'Angelo..." and a bit later in the same paragraph " will then be able to get anywhere from anywhere—by underground train." That is still a bit overstated, but there has been progress. True, the many stretches of independently run under-(and over)ground train lines in Naples is confusing. People still use the conventional names: they say "the old Metro" (technically, the number 2 line), "the new Metro" (the number 1 line; that's the gigantic circle around the city. By station count, it is now 19/25th complete!) Other trains are the narrow-gauge Circumvesuiana line, the narrow-gauge Cumana line. etc. Eventually, there will just be a lot of numbers; people will say "the number 1," "the number 6," and, yea, we'll all be content.

A major sticking point has been that "one-stop shuttle train to the new campus of the university" mentioned above. Construction started 10 years and then was interrupted four years ago for the usual reason ("the bastards ate the money"). In four years, the construction site decayed and turned into a dump, but now the papers report that work has started up again on this extremely important little stretch of track. Newer plans call for a line that will run from the Fair Grounds (Mostra)
—the end of the #6 line—and run north to stop at the San Paolo stadium, stop again at the large residential area, Parco San Paolo, and then finally at the university; the total distance is about 2 km. Yes, you can walk it and many do, but it's a miserable hike when traffic is bad, and traffic is always bad.

In keeping with the tradition that every new metro station in Naples shall be the most artistic one in the world, two of the stations will each cradle one-half of installation artist and sculptor, Anish Kapoor's gigantic Taratantara (which explains the image in this entry above right). At least that is how I interpret the newspaper reference to "two gigantic mouths". Unless Kapoor has built something else that looks about the same, he has been recycling that thing since the 1990s; it was the installation art exhibit at Piazza Plebiscito in Naples in the year 2000. Somewhere along the way, he sold it to the city of Naples under the condition that it be used in the new stations. He was very upset when construction stopped, and, ever since, his sculpture has been holed up in Holland while Kapoor threatens to sue and wants to buy back his work. I think, however, that part of it (them?) has just been moved to Pozzuoli. (More at this link.)

35.  update from Sept 2015 on the Montecalvario entrance to the Toledo station (at #25, above).

36.  update from April 2016 -  see this Youtube link for an Italian television video production entitled "The Art Stations of the Neapolitan Metro. It is 40 minutes long, well done, and subtitled in English. This notice also appears on the Naples Miscellany page 60, here.

                The Next Train? Maybe October. Why? You in a Hurry?
37. update from June 2021 - I last looked in on this particular Metro station at #16 here. The was 10 years ago, give or take. Earlier mentions of this stop are at #'s 14, 11, 8, 6 and 2. This is part of the #6 line of the Metro network. It's as Arco Mirelli, midway along the route. They started at the bottom.

They're still working on it, but the surface looks pretty good (image, right). Beneath the surface is pretty good, too, so they say. Tracks look good,
platforms, etc. maybe a few odds and ends to go. It's a long station. What you see here are the two top and bottom green west entrances (on the right-hand side). This square is named "Quattro Giornate" (Four Days), named for this WW2 episode, as is the statue in the middle of the roundabout. (The U.S. consulate is just out of view on the lower left.) The large public seaside park, the Villa Comunale starts at the top right and runs for a mile to the east (right). The other (eastern) entrance to and exit from the station come up a hundred meters or so down the line and that is the end of the #6 line. For now. The line will then continue to the city hall at Piazza Municipio. (Read all about it by going to the top of this very page and reading everything. Take your time. No one else is in a hurry). It's been quite a ride so far. For 20 years the Metro has been the largest on-going undertaking of urban construction in Italy. When is the next and first train from this station? I asked. Iron-clad 'probably' says October. I see that my first sentence 20 years ago started, "It's fun to watch them work..." I was much younger.
Be aware that this #6 line is separate from the 'great circle' of the Metro stations, most of which is at some altitude) displayed at various points on this page (#26, for example). This line runs along the bottom of those maps (at sea level), connecting only at Municipio (but not yet --don't worry, there is a way! Keep reading.) This line is meant to get you into the city from the western suburb of Fuori Grotta. Note also that today --2021 -- the famous Mergellina station is not shown on the Metro maps. It isn't part of the Metro! At one time (in the 1920s --100 years ago!) there were two train stations in Naples: Piazza Garibaldi and Mergellina, the latter being the newer elegant one for the well-heeled. Today, however, there is a spiderweb of rail lines beneath the city. So if you are at the Mostra (Fair Grounds -- image, left) and want to get to the main station at Garibaldi, go 3 stops and get off at Mergellina. Change to the #2 line. Thanks to modern tunnel-boring machines you can  get to Garibaldi in a few stops: Piazza Amedeo [not 'AmAdeo'-- that's the Music Man); Montesanto; Piazza Cavour (the big National Archaeological Museum) and, bingo! Mergellina.

No, that's not all. These people have been digging tunnels through mountains even before there were mountains. There are some stations that are still very useful today. Check Mergellina again.  As noted, you can angle up at 11 o'clock (or NxNW if you can't tell time) and take the #2 line into the city (but not yet. Some day. ) If you go in the other direction, back to the SE, you pass back into Fuorigrotta though the same hill you just came through (on the new #6). That is still the #2 line but was really part of the old Naples ->Pozzuoli-> Formia -> Rome. The first stop out of the tunnel is
Cavalleggeri-Aosta and there are others along the beaches near Pozzuoli. People still use those stations to go to the beach out there. Many of the stations are from the 1920s, built by Mussolini (he had help) to take the load off the only rail line to Rome, up the center, by Cassino, the route taken by the new high-speed Super-Duper train from Naples.

Still not all. There are two narrow-gauge railways in Naples. One is the "Cumana". Some of the stations are now part of the #2 line that serves the western Gulf of Naples, that is, the bay of  Pozzuoli (in the above paragraph). It's limited but useful. The second is the gigantic Circumvesuviana, with over 100 stations. Most are surface platform stations, but some go through tunnels once they start out to Sorrento. They all serve Naples from the main train station to the east,  to and around Vesuvius, the most densely populated area in Europe (yes, denser than the Ruhr in Germany).

You can skip a  lot of this train nonsense by using the cable-cars. They still carry thousands of people a day who live here
and just want to get up and down (from 300-400 meters to sea level).

I saved the best for last: mythical stations.

38. update Aug 12, 2021

The "Duomo" Metropolitana station is now open. It has taken 20 years to build. The results are impressive. The station is 40 meters below ground. The main entrance here (image) is not really that near the actual Duomo (Cathedral), a few hundred meters up the sloped via Duomo to the north. The station you see is on the large boulevard, Corso Umberto, that runs from the Borsa (stock exchange) to Piazza Garibaldi and the main train station. The square is Piazza Nicola Amore, marked by the "4 Gemelli" (Quadruplets), 4 identical buildings built during the Risanamento, the urban renewal of Naples in 1900. (Easily located at #26, above. Building engineers say this one was the most difficult station of all.

39. update March 31, 2023

Local papers called it the "final rush". That means "the last touches", I think, but if you say something in English it means you're serious. It was a photo op for the opening of the last station in the Nunber 6 line of the
Naples Metropolitan, still the largest on-going construction project of any city in Italy. Various "bigs" were there (see? it sounds better!) The president of the Campania Region, someone of European Commission, etc. That was yesterday, the "inauguration". You can't ride it yet. Maybe in a few days. This is the infamous "ghost train"  they stopped working on at one point entirely. No one was riding it because you couldn't go anywhere. The two sort of go together.

The entrance to the station is the large bright building at the lower left. The space in front is the square of  Santa Maria degli Angeli. The train station down below is lovely. It is the last stop before the train continues below the Royal Palace (upper right corner) and ends at Piazza Municipio (off the image, upper left.)

The goal is to get you from the Mostra (Overseas Fair Grounds), (bottom station on the map, left) to the City Hall and downtown Naples (top station on map). Our newly opened station (second from top) is called Piazza Plebiscito, the square you see in the upper right at the Royal Palace. Yes —gasp-sputter— you have to hoof it for about 90 seconds. (Stay home.) Physically, this short stretch of 8 stations is not part of the city-girdling Metropolitana (image, right. Our short #6 runs at sea-level west-east across the bottom of the map on the right (more of less where  the empty blue space is (bottom, left). Many of the stations of the large city-circling Metro are at altitudes of 250+ meters. This is still going to  take a while longer. Don't worry — if you've got the money, they've got the time.


This is not over, not by a long shot. The city has announced it is accepting bids to extend the #6 line two stations in the other direction
that is, from the Fair Grounds back to Bagnoli and Posillipo, thus running down off the bottom of the vertical map on the left and thus under the entire 1-mile seaward side of the Fair grounds. I am writing these lines on April 1, but I read them yesterday, so I don't think it's an April Fool's gag. Actually, it's not a bad idea. Construction provides jobs, so in a couple of years I wouldn't be surprised if they decide that places a bit further up need a station. They have to stop at the Alps.


   The Porto (Port) Metrò station on the #1-line of the vast Naples Underground rapid transit system is now  open. It is directly in front of the main passenger terminal (past the parking lot). The large Angevin Fortress is across the street on your left. It opened yesterday and then closed again for reasons of bureaucratic incompetence and then reopened, managing to incense a mere few hundred would-be passengers, who always seem to get in the way of political photo-ops. So, that's 20 years and counting (but who's counting) since I started keeping track of the trains in Naples. I regret to predict that I will not be around to see the "golden spike" driven that finishes this thing.
   If you come to Naples by private yacht, go read something else. If you come by aeroplane (that spelling is how old some of these crates are), hope for an eruption of Vesuvius. Spectacular fireworks! Land or bail out in a hurry because volcanic ash will foul the engines.
   Gigantic cruise ship is the way to tour. Approach from the west, Capri and Vesuvius to starboard. The white passenger terminal was built in 1936 when ships were much smaller, but it's still serviceable. These two images await you: 

top: the city on the hill, something like New Jerusalem, the oldest continuously inhabited center of large population in Italy. I'd stay on top and walk up the 200 meters to the city hall. That's the Angevin Fortress on your left. You wanted to tour. Start touring.
bottom:  the city is proud of these displays of Naples history on the walls,
and a long moving walkway.

Also see airport station  &   The Little Choo-choo that needed a dictionary 

            to urban portal                     to top of this page

 © 2002 - 2023